Cohen is VP of marketing at Royal Crown Cola International (RCCI), whose Royal Crown Cola is an iconic US brand launched in 1905 and based in Columbus, Georgia.
Sweetened using stevia and natural cane sugar, RC Neo was unveiled on Saturday at the Anuga Taste the Future trade show in Cologne.
It contains 50% fewer calories than regular RC Cola, and Cohen says RCCI sees Neo as a mainstream brand, not a line extension, and will target regular not diet cola drinkers.
Coca-Cola Life got there first with the first stevia-sweetened Coke – another mid-calorie product – following its Argentina launch in June, while Pepsi used stevia in the September 2012 Australian incarnation of NEXT, to effect a 30% sugar cut.
But Cohen tells Ben Bouckley that the three years RCCI spent developing Neo was time well spent, since “it isn’t about being first to market – it’s about being the best”.
RCCI bottlers keen to launch
(To underline RCCI’s expertise in the cola category, Cohen explains that some of the firm’s R&D staff have over 40 years experience in cola formulation.)
“I truly believe that we are talking here about something that is wider than just coming first to the market. Taking the wider perspective, it’s about who comes up with the best solution for consumers,” Cohen says.
“We are looking to have a better product for consumers who are used to drinking full sugar colas. We needed to come up with the best taste, with fewer calories and using only natural sweeteners.”
RCCI bottlers from as far afield as The Philippines, Europe and the Middle East were keen to bring RC Neo to market soon, Cohen promised, adding that samples of the drink had gained rave reviews from visitors to the firm’s show booth at Anuga.